MS and Stress

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MS and Stress

Postby Absentee » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:21 pm

I've been thinking about this one for a while. All of my major spikes in symptoms, the initial through present, have occurred around extremely stressful life events.

in order:
college graduation
extreme work stress
buying first house
stressful "promotion" at work
wife's pregnancy
daughter's birth

So for me, this is fully triggered by stress. Very clear. I wonder what other's experience is. I want to believe that what I do otherwise has an effect: diet, supplements, acupuncture, yoga, chinese herbs, copaxone, etc...
But you know, sometimes I think any help that comes is pure coincidence and it is only the stress that gets me.

Life is stressful - how do you beat it? Does any of this ring true to any one else?
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Postby jimmylegs » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:28 pm

stress makes you pee out minerals which can cause a wide range of symptoms if you're already starting out low.
ms patients have low zinc and consequently low uric acid.
that means they have higher ammonia in their system.
ammonia makes you pee out minerals.
so does coffee.
then when stress kicks in, you pee out even more and it gets even worse.
what feels like an ms relapse, could be in part symptoms related to nutrient depletion, yes, caused by stress.
hope that helps a bit,
JL
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Postby lyndacarol » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:55 pm

Stress also causes the body to produce more insulin.
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Postby jimmylegs » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:10 pm

that could be related to stress and the excretion of chromium, what do you think LC?
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Re: MS and Stress

Postby euphoniaa » Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:39 am

Absentee wrote:I've been thinking about this one for a while. All of my major spikes in symptoms, the initial through present, have occurred around extremely stressful life events.

in order:
college graduation
extreme work stress
buying first house
stressful "promotion" at work
wife's pregnancy
daughter's birth


Hi Absentee,

Hmmm, it seems to me that those events are also some of the most fabulous, exciting, rewarding, invigorating, emotionally fulfilling, life-affirming events of one's life. In short, they ARE life. I congratulate you on those accomplishments! :)

One of the first things I WAS TOLD (slight edit from my first version) on MS forums 6 years ago was that STRESS was the horrible enemy of MS and was to be avoided at all costs (ha!) or you would suffer dire consequences, up to and including the dread...(oh, I hesitate to even speak it aloud)... exacerbation!!. I heard it a hundred times within days of my first forum visit. And whatever you do, DON'T OVERDO anything, especially allowing yourself to get overheated with... (Gasp!) healthy exercise! (Strenuous exercise has since become a bit more accepted...)

I find it disturbing that so much of the official MS "information" and advice is set on instilling fear into us, especially the unreasonable fear of stress. Of course having to deal with large amounts of real stress is not particularly good for anyone, with or without MS. But living life at all makes stress completely unavoidable, so the trick is learning to take a deep breath and "go with it" – appreciate and enjoy the opportunities it presents as well.

In the years since my dx, I've watched people express sheer terror wondering how they'll possibly be able to handle an upcoming major event, good or bad. Yikes! The constant admonitions to avoid stress make us feel guilty for not being able to do so, when that's virtually impossible. Learning to enjoy the excitement of the experience instead, proves that those of us with MS are not a completely separate species, but an integral part of the rest of humanity, with or without a few heightened sensations. Maybe it's not a symptom after all, but a thrill instead. (Or maybe that's a bit too Pollyanna-ish, even for me. Sorry. :) )

I know that I'm in the minority, but I've never noticed stress as having much specific effect on my symptoms at all, and I keep charts. Of course, my life is so full of stress (or what anyone with a more normal mind than mine would perceive as stress :) ) and so full of symptoms that I doubt I could accurately correlate a symptom with an event easily. Unlike charting my foods, where the result is immediate, the biggest events of one's life (like yours, for instance) actually play out over weeks, months, or years, making it likely that illness will coincide with them sooner or later.

Another of my pet peeves is that we're told that something as common and inevitable as 'stress' can have such a major detrimental effect on MS, but also told that treating MS correctly requires us to go on the attack, blasting it with some of the most powerful, dangerous, expensive drugs around – ones that attack our entire bodies. And that treating MS gently, coaxing it with diet & exercise, and by learning to handle the inevitable stresses of life, won't work without DRUGS. I still don't get it.

I do my best to remove stress from my own life, however. Whenever I find myself standing vigil with sick family members in emergency rooms and post surgery, I never hesitate to remind them, "Dammit! You know I have MS and I'm not allowed to have any stress!" :) Now, if only I could keep THEM healthy...

I wish fabulous events for everyone's life and the good health to enjoy them. :)
Last edited by euphoniaa on Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
Dx'd with MS & HNPP (hereditary peripheral neuropathy) 7/03 but must have had MS for 30 yrs before that. I've never taken meds for MS or MS symptoms except 1 yr experiment on LDN. (I found diet, exercise, sleep, humor, music help me the most.)
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Postby gainsbourg » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:44 pm

This is an area that fascinates me. For healthy people stress management is a 'self improvement' thing - but I believe if you suffer from any kind of neurological disease learning how to avoid and cope with stress is an absolute must. It's a pretty tall order when this disease can be so debilitating, unpredictable and stressful in itself.

There can’t be many people who like to hear it suggested that their physical disease may be worsened or even stem from mental turmoil, but there is growing evidence that our mental and emotional functions powerfully influence our health. The mind and the body form a kind of continuum and are not as separate as modern medical treatment would lead us to believe.
Stress is a known factor in IBS, psoriasis, hives, eczema, thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, and the onset of type 1 diabetes...the list is huge.

Yes, stress hormones are known to upset normal immune functions, for example by changing or amplifying cytokine production, which ultimately results in autoimmune disease. Stress is also known to weaken the immune system and damage the blood brain barrier....but for all we know, the main damage may occur simply because stress laden thoughts somehow harm or weaken the very tissues from which they originate.

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Postby euphoniaa » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:41 pm

gainsbourg wrote:Stress is also known to weaken the immune system and damage the blood brain barrier....but for all we know, the main damage may occur simply because stress laden thoughts somehow harm or weaken the very tissues from which they originate.

gainsbourg


Well, now that you put it THAT way...I take it all back. 8O
Dx'd with MS & HNPP (hereditary peripheral neuropathy) 7/03 but must have had MS for 30 yrs before that. I've never taken meds for MS or MS symptoms except 1 yr experiment on LDN. (I found diet, exercise, sleep, humor, music help me the most.)
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Postby lyndacarol » Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:07 pm

JL--To your question:
that could be related to stress and the excretion of chromium, what do you think LC?

I know that chromium supplements have been found to help type II diabetes (insulin resistance), although I do not understand the precise connection. It could well be as you suggest, JL -- the link between stress and insulin could go through chromium.
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Postby jimmylegs » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:42 am

hmmm the research i've seen looks mixed, and the reporting seems to lack important details.

1993: Chromium potentiates the action of insulin in vitro and in vivo; maximal in vitro activity requires a special chemical form, termed Glucose Tolerance Factor and tentatively identified as a Cr-nicotinic acid complex. Its complete structural identification is a major challenge to chromium research. The development and validation of a procedure to diagnose chromium status is the second challenge
2005: ...we found no beneficial effect of chromium supplementation in the treatment of people with IGT despite increases in serum chromium levels, which suggested an adequate dosage regimen. (the study did not have a healthy control group for comparison, and the write-up also fails to mention the duration of supplementation)
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Postby euphoniaa » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:12 am

gainsbourg wrote:This is an area that fascinates me. For healthy people stress management is a 'self improvement' thing - but I believe if you suffer from any kind of neurological disease learning how to avoid and cope with stress is an absolute must. It's a pretty tall order when this disease can be so debilitating, unpredictable and stressful in itself.

There can’t be many people who like to hear it suggested that their physical disease may be worsened or even stem from mental turmoil, but there is growing evidence that our mental and emotional functions powerfully influence our health. The mind and the body form a kind of continuum and are not as separate as modern medical treatment would lead us to believe.
Stress is a known factor in IBS, psoriasis, hives, eczema, thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, and the onset of type 1 diabetes...the list is huge.

Yes, stress hormones are known to upset normal immune functions, for example by changing or amplifying cytokine production, which ultimately results in autoimmune disease. Stress is also known to weaken the immune system and damage the blood brain barrier....but for all we know, the main damage may occur simply because stress laden thoughts somehow harm or weaken the very tissues from which they originate.

gainsbourg


You know, gainsbourg, that is one scary post - one of the scariest I've ever read. And here I was trying to cheer people up instead. :D

I'm sure you're right, but the incongruity of our posts back to back absolutely cracked me up. :D I swear I haven't laughed so hard in months. Thank you. I laughed myself to bed last night. I thought of it and giggled every time I woke up for a bathroom trip in the night (I usually fall right back to sleep). I woke up laughing. I'm laughing now.

"Stress laden thoughts...?" Stop, stop, you're killin' me. :D

Yes, stress surrounds us all, both sick and non-sick, and I hope we all find a way to cope. Sending pleasant, soothing, relaxing thoughts to all this morning and hope it helps. And keep laughing. :D
Dx'd with MS & HNPP (hereditary peripheral neuropathy) 7/03 but must have had MS for 30 yrs before that. I've never taken meds for MS or MS symptoms except 1 yr experiment on LDN. (I found diet, exercise, sleep, humor, music help me the most.)
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Postby gainsbourg » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:04 am

You've made me laugh now euphonia! I'd rather make you laugh than scare you. I'm usd to people laughing at my ideas! Unconventional ideas spark all kinds of emotions, anger, fear. I agree - laughter is by far the best medicine against MS.

About the line that scared you:

"....the main damage may occur simply because stress laden thoughts somehow harm or weaken the very tissues from which they originate..."

I too felt uncomfortable when I first thought up that line, hopefully I will make you laugh again rather than scare you when I tell you how I came up with this....I did not make it up on a whim. Scientists have known for several years now that the white matter in the brain is used a bit like a telephone exchange for "integrative thinking" and that women use the white matter twice as much as men. (Haier 2004)

It occured to me that just as a telephone exchange can reach melt down, so the white matter may not react well if it is overworked with certain kinds of stress...especially if it is already damaged or compromised. Our atavistic brains might just not be designed to handle all the complexity of modern stress.

If stress can inflame skin, why shouldn't it inflame white matter?

Oh, to return to the simple, straight forward life of the uncomplicated undeveloped world! ...maybe a bit closer to the Equator.....:wink:


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Postby Absentee » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:00 pm

Euphoniaa - thanks for your post. you are right in so many ways. :D

Gainsbourg - My dark side agrees with much of what you say. I fully believe in the mind/body connection. My Dad says that every every thought is an electrical impulse and that can be potentially harmful so don't let yourself overthink.

Jimmy and Lyndacarol - I like this as a way to think about the biology of stress in the body. It is not so mysterious to consider stress as as an event which your body reacts to with specific actions. It is more comforting than to think of it as directly chipping away at my CNS.
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Postby jimmylegs » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:42 pm

glad you like, absentee. in my view it's so important to know the nitty gritty details! when you break it down and figure out what's going on, you can often realize oh, okay, well i can fix that, bring it on!
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Postby hlm286 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:18 am

I complete agree that stress can exaberate your symptoms. Every time I get even a little stressed out I start to feel my hand go number and my back burn (my most regular symptoms since my attack). My problem is that I think and worry constantly (I've always been like that) and I don't know how to fix it! Lately I've seriously been considering looking into a psychiatrist or something to help me with this. I've been reading "The Power of Positive Thinking" book (and do believe that thoughts can have power) and I've been trying to replace negative thoughts with positive ones but the negative ones just keep overpowering! My husband told me to think like a Saturday Night Live skit where the person keeps saying "So what! Who Care?" Which makes me laugh and it does work for a little bit, but it's so hard to control your thoughts to stay positive. And I know 99% of my stress is self-developed so if I could just stop stressing myself out I'd feel great!

(Oh and if you want a laugh, here's the SNL clip where he's being the woman from The View saying "so what? Who care?"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/0 ... 83010.html

My husband imitates this skit when I'm worried about things and it really does help to lighten my mind because worrying doesn't change anything so it's actually good to think, So what? Who Care!" lol
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Postby cheerleader » Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:45 am

Cortisol- the hormone produced by the adrenals, released when we're stressed, is a vasoconstrictor and endothelial disrupter...it makes your circulatory system "tighten up", and your blood vessels weaken-

Here's a study regarding MS, exacerbations and stressful life events-
Finally, mast cells, which reside in the endothelium, can be activated by increases in corticotropin releasing factor related to stress. Activated mast cells increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier and increase inflammation through the release of tumour necrosis factor α, histamines, and tryptase


http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articl ... tid=381319

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